Since retiring from a professorship in English and legal studies at the University of Delaware, Joan has been writing about living as a single woman, with emphasis on handling serious illness without a partner. She gave a TEDx talk, "Sick While Single? Don't Die of Discrimination," and was interviewed on All Things Considered. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, Herald Tribune, Psychology Today, Health Psychologist, Psych Central, Quartz, and Folks Magazine, among others. Her current book project is a blend of personal experience with research on living single.

In a previous life, Joan published dozens of articles about free speech
as well as three books with Yale University Press: What Johnny Shouldn't Read: Textbook Censorship in America (1992), The Fourth R: Conflicts Over Religion in America's Public Schools (2004), and Knowledge in the Making: Academic Freedom and Free Speech in America's Schools and Universities (2010). She received the American Library Association's Eli M. Oboler award for What Johnny Shouldn't Read, and her work has won awards from the Spencer Foundation, the Gustavus Myers Center, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Civil Liberties Union (Delaware), among others. She's appeared on dozens of talk shows, notably 20/20, The Diane Rehm Show, Radio Times, Talk of the Nation, and Fresh Air. She holds a Ph.D. in English and an M.S. in clinical psychology from Penn State.

Joan has been a Scholar in Residence at the New York Public Library and is an active member of the Authors Guild, PEN America, the Cosmos Club, Mystery Writers of America, the International Women's Forum, and Rotary International. She divides her time between her home in Delaware and New York City.